Friday, June 17, 2011

But We Are

Last year I lamented the lack of attention most Jews pay to the holiday of Shavuot. I reported in that post that "my kids didn't really celebrate Shavuot. Also, as I had predicted, there were very few people at services. No one thinks Shavuot is important enough to take their kids out of school ... ." Commenter Shtuey pointed out that "[t]here is no ritual practice associated with the festival. There is no seder, no building of a temporary structure, no lighting of multi-branched cand[elabra], etc. The best it gets is that we eat dairy."

So far, I have not figured out how to get people excited about Shavuot. But I wanted to go a step further this year and take the kids to the service. At the very least it would give them a clue that a holiday happens in late spring/early summer, even if most people, even Jews, haven't heard of it; the fact that people show up in the middle of the week for a service at the synagogue is "proof."

The problem was that Einstein (8) was supposed to have Field Day (which they call "Spring Swing") on the day I was to take him out of school for the holiday. It felt wrong to deprive him of Spring Swing. I was going to take his little brother only. But then the forecast said that the temperature would reach about a million degrees, with crappy air quality, and they cancelled Spring Swing. I wasn't sure what I was going to do.

In the morning, Einstein asked, "why can't I go to the service?" I said, "well, you can if you want to." He said that he wanted to, and while I realized that he might have been at least partially motivated by a desire to get out of going to school, I was sure that telling him he could had to go to school instead would send the wrong message. Even if, every year, he looks at the Jewish calendar and happily exclaims "oh look! I can get out of school on this day!", I would prefer that to "oh, look, another boring Jewish thing this month ::groan::"

We were getting ready to leave for the synagogue and in the entryway I gave the kids a bit of a warning that there probably would not be very many other children; that, in fact, they might be the only ones. Seeing their confused looks, I said, "well, this is an important holiday, but for some reason many people don't treat it that way."

Without missing a beat, Einstein said, "but we are."

Indeed. You've earned your day off, kid.